It is estimated that 4.57 billion people use the internet, which is roughly 59% of the global population. Unfortunately, increased numbers of individuals in this (largely unregulated) space often equates to increased risk of harm, particularly for younger users.
Given these numbers, it is crucial that we prioritise our kid’s online safety. Without the implementation of internet safety rules, children are at particular risk of becoming victims of cyberbullying and other abusive conduct, viewing inappropriate or dangerous content and being connected to individuals who are looking to exploit them.
Internet security experts and governmental organisations know that the level of online supervision varies across families. Some children own their own tablets and laptops and browse completely unmonitored whilst others have defined websites they are allowed to access at set times and only whilst an adult is monitoring their actions.
Regardless of your family’s internet safety rules, it can be challenging to keep your kids safe from online harm. To keep your children completely protected, you will need to teach them how to make the right decisions online, even when you are not around.
Children and teenagers are among the most active users of the internet and are subjected to several different types of online threats. Should your children spend hours surfing the web, it’s essential that you understand the risks that may be out there.
In today’s technology-driven world, social media cyberbullying is unfortunately very common and can cause considerable damage to young, vulnerable users.
One of the simplest solutions is to prevent your children from creating social media profiles until they are an appropriate age. This can be difficult, as kids often want to be on Facebook and Instagram to chat with their friends. Should they have access to these websites, monitor the amount of time they are spending online and ensure they know they can come to you at any time with concerns.
Whilst older adults are often considered the main targets of online scams, children are as equally vulnerable. Education plays a crucial role in preventing online scam, so make sure your children know that not everyone online wants to be their friend and teach them to spot the common signs of a scam. Do not let them have access to any debit or credit cards and stress to them the importance of coming to you first before signing up to any online services.
Social media is unfortunately another tool that has been known to facilitate predatory behavior. Should your children have access to social media or any kind of platform that allows them to chat with others (including online games), teach them about the dangers of talking to strangers and make sure they know to never share personal information with those they don’t know.
What can parents do?
Below are some general tips parents can employ to teach their children about online safety:
Understanding popular websites, the capabilities and the dangers of the internet will allow you to teach your children to practise safe browsing habits and reap the benefits of this fantastic, engaging learning tool.
Set online rules for your kids
Set rules for your children so they know what websites they can access and how long they can spend online each day. As important as setting the rules is explaining why they are in place — kids are far more likely to positively respond when they understand what is happening!
Teach your kids to keep their personal information private
Ensure that your children know what sort of information does not belong online — their full name, date of birth, contact details and the personal information of their family members.
Set social media boundaries
Social media sites such as Facebook allow both kids and adults to share photos and videos of themselves and have conversations with both friends and strangers. Educate them on getting their privacy settings right so that content shared has a limited viewership of only their friends and family.
Encourage your kids to reach out if they are facing a problem
Children need to know that they can always come to you if they have made a mistake online (like sharing personal information) or are feeling uncertain and uncomfortable. Teach them that you are always there for them, no matter what the problem.
Keep the conversation going
Internet safety is not a one-off event but rather an ongoing practise. Continue to remind your children about the importance of secure internet practises and encourage them to share with you their online activities.
The internet can be a wonderful place for children but they should not be allowed to access the world wide web unless they are fully aware of the dangers. Protect your kid’s online safety by teaching them internet safety rules so they can experience the joys and opportunities of the online world. Always be actively involved in your children’s digital and day-to-day lives and encourage open conversation about their online behaviour.